It’s every employee’s right to feel safe in the workplace and to have equal opportunity for advancement. While these truths sound self-evident, complaints of discrimination and retaliation for speaking up continue to rise.

Regulated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and by New York law, there are several classes protected against discrimination at work, among them: age, disability, nationality, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and marital status. In a review of 2016 stats—the most current available—complaints rose for the second consecutive year with nearly 100,000 in total.

Multiple charges are common

The data gives a compelling review of discrimination in the US workforce. Divided into ten primary categories, retaliation for complaints was the most common, followed by discrimination based on race, disability, sex and age. In measuring complaints, it’s also significant to note the overlap between categories because many complaints are guilty of multiple violations. In addition to nearly 100,000 charges, the cases penalized employers for over $480 million.

Defending your rights

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 established the EEOC more than 50 years ago. It’s a fundamental piece of American legislation and its purpose is to protect employees from unfair employment practices.

Unfortunately, the statistics show that workplace discrimination and retaliation are still serious problems today. It’s your right to speak up about injustice at work. If you’re experiencing discrimination, whether overt or subtle, an attorney can help you understand the situation and what steps you can take to resolve the situation.